When did your Timing Belt break


I am looking for actual experiences about when and under what conditions a car you drove or were in when the engine cam timing belt broke. Please provide, if possible, the mileage and age on the belt and the conditions under which the car was operating at the time it broke, i.e. starting, accelerating, cruising, stop and go traffic, high speed, etc. There is a lot of lore out there about belt breakages but I am looking for actual data.


76 Pinto on an expressway in Buffalo in 1980. I had it towed to a parking lot and replaced it there.


2001 Hyundai Sonata timing belt broke at around 48K miles while driving 65mph on the interstate during April of 2005.
Everything went dead on the car right away – Had my 2 young kids in the back seat, but was able to get into the brekdown lane – Not a good experience at all.


My friend’s 199X Subaru Legacy lost one of its two cam belts (I was in the car at the time, so this is firsthand experience). This happened at constant highway speed, 60mph, on level ground, on a mild day in mid-summer. (it was not a hot day, we’re in Washington state)

The car lost all engine power in the left lane of the freeway. My friend was able to coast to the shoulder. The car had about 150k miles on it.

Lucky for her it is not an interference engine!


Never, I’ve never owned anything with a timing belt.


1972 Fiat 128 with about 36,000 miles. Car was cruising at normal speed on the NJ Turnpike. Towed back to dealer in NYC.


A friends 87 Honda Civic timing belt broke just as he was turning into his driveway.
The daughter’s 97 Escort timing belt broke while sitting at a stop light.



My 1976 Fiat 128 did not break a timing belt, however everything else broke!


Small world, 75 Pinto on Roosevelt Blvd. in Philadelphia in 1979 driving about 45 - 50 mph. I was able to turn onto a side street. That’s one car I don’t feel nostalgia for.

Ed B.


My brother’s 1990 VW Passat supposedly had its timing belt replaced by dealer for $300 9000 miles before. We were in traffic idling and engine went dead. It was towed to another dealer (local) and they said it broke but no damage to engine even though interference. They also doubted the belt was changed by dealer although the dealer charged us given its condition.

Anyway it was covered by VW’s repair warranty fully so he motored on at least another 100k-150k miles until around 195k.


I have never broken a timing in all my driving years, mainly because I have never owned a car with a timing belt. I would drive a team of oxen first. Same thing goes for fwd cars as of this date. LEE


The oxen might actually handle better than the FWD car.


I believe the car was a 1976 Mustang II, something mid-'70s anyway, and the timing gear broke while cruising downhill on a 55MPH highway. The engine just stopped and I coasted down the hill and pulled over near the bottom. Had to tow it over the next hill to a mechanic friend of mine. It turned out Ford had put in a timing gear with molded on plastic teeth. Not sure what they were thinking, but it was not an interference engine and the aftermarket gear set was all metal, so it got fixed and I kept driving it for a while longer.

Mustang II, the redheaded stepchild of the Ford Mustang family that nobody likes to talk about . . .


1991 Pontiac Sunbird, 130k miles, was on my way to school, about 1 min into my drive, starting from cold, going about 35-40mph…not accelerating hard. Heard a sound then the oil pressure dropped to zero and the engine went quiet. Was on a back road so I just coasted to the side and stopped. Had it towed, and the shop said the timing chain (not belt) slipped, with lots of damage…I just got rid of the car.


Had a 1984 Subaru sedan 4 wheel drive and broke the timming belt once at 40k and again around 85 as I recall… had an extended warrentee, got if fixed both times… tho both times had to fight with the warrrentee co. to have it done… also went through 3 radiators… I hear Subaru has improved it’s quatlity since then… was a nice car tho… and the only 4WD sedan on the market back then…


My first one was on a 72 Vega on the Interstate in Nashville TN. Coasted off the ramp and fixed it off the side of the road. I was within 10 minutes of the ONLY parts store around from closing…and I bought the LAST belt they had.


In the winter, during an ice storm, on the interstate doing around 55-65 (road was salted and clear). 126k on a 79 Dodge Colt. The only other person I know personally that had a broken timing belt was also during an ice storm, Mitsubishi Eclipse 66k miles.


“I have never broken a timing [belt] in al my driving years, mainly because I have never owned a car with a timing belt”.

Timing gears can fail as well. My parents owned a 1969 Pontiac LeMans with the 350 V-8. At about 100,000 miles the timing gear failed in their driveway. This Pontiac engine was notorious for this problem as the gear was a nylon gear. However, this wasn’t an interference engine. The gear was replaced with a steel timing gear and there were no more problems. Apparently, the Pontiac engineers thought that the cr was quieter with the nylon gears. When these gears were replaced with steel gears, nobody could hear any difference. The Chevrolet 6 cylinder engines of the 1940’s used fiber timing gears which did fail and was apparently a weakness of this engine. However, the a broken timing gear on these Chevrolet engines was not a disaster. I’m not sure that I would label the interference engine with its timing belt that should be changed at 60,000 miles or so for several hundred dollars as progress.

I don’t remember people having all the problems with timing gears and timing chains back in the 1950’s that we have with failed timing belts today. I also don’t remember all the problems with blown head gaskets that people report today.

I’ll stick my neck out even a little further. The G-M Hydramatic that was first available on the 1940 Oldsmobile and was then used in tanks during WW II seemed to me to be more reliable than many automatic transmissions are today. The shifting wasn’t very smooth–I could shift a manual transmission more smoothly than the Hydramatic could go through its four speeds.


This isn’t really about my car but things I’ve witnessed. A lot of serpentine belt tensioners break on the 3.0L V-6’s in Chrysler products. Usually replacement of the tensioner and belt is the solution. I have seen the following twice: The serpentine belt tensioner broke and the serpentine belt ended up between the crank pulley and the timing cover. The driver kept going and the belt was

pushed/squashed through the hole in the timing cover just inboard of the crank pulley. The broken serprntine belt then pushed the timing belt off the crank sprocket. In one of the cases the engine was ruined, and it was a very low mileage car- about 7000 on the odometer. Wish I could throw more light. I wasn’t there when it happened.


“I also don’t remember all the problems with blown head gaskets that people report today.”

Aluminum heads on iron blocks have considerably more differential expansion than iron head on iron blocks.